Universal Orlando announces Mardi Gras concert lineup

Universal Mardi Gras concert lineup

Thirty Seconds to Mars, Ne-Yo and Blake Shelton are among the headliners just announced for Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras this spring.

The 2011 Mardi Gras celebration happens on weekend nights Feb. 12 through April 23 at the Universal Studios Florida theme park in Orlando, Florida.

Here’s the concert lineup:

  • Feb. 12: Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
  • Feb. 19: The B-52s
  • Feb. 20: KC & The Sunshine Band
  • Feb. 26: Pitbull
  • March 5: Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • March 12: Foreigner
  • March 18: Neon Trees
  • March 19: Thirty Seconds to Mars
  • March 25: OneRepublic
  • March 26: Blake Shelton
  • April 1: Sean Kingston
  • April 2: Ne-Yo
  • April 9: Lifehouse
  • April 16: The Beach Boys

Universal’s Mardi Gras also includes a nightly parade with floats designed by Blaine Kern Artists in New Orleans, and, of course, lots and lots of beads.

A “French Quarter” street party serves up cajun food and musicians playing blues, jazz and zydeco.

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras is included with regular theme park admission to Universal Studios Florida – no separate ticket is required for the concerts.

Fire erupts at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure

A ride – a water ride, of all things – caught fire at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure on New Year’s Day, causing the evacuation of a section of the theme park.

The fire happened around 5:30 p.m., according to Central Florida News 13. No injuries have been reported.

Fire at Universal OrlandoUniversal Orlando officials evacuted the ride, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, as well as the surrounding Toon Lagoon area.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. According to witnesses at the scene, the ride fire started on the roof.

“My source tells me a vendor truck next to the ride caught fire. A tree spread the fire to the top of the ride,” according to Brian J. Smith on Twitter.

Smith tweeted the photo used here and attributed it to his sister, a theme park employee.

Ripsaw Falls is one of Islands of Adventure‘s original rides. It opened with the theme park in 1999.

The ride remains closed, the rest of the theme park will be open during its previously announced operating hours.

Riders of size not welcome on Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park ride

When it comes to overweight guests, none of the magic spells or potions in the world are enough to make them fit in the flagship ride at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” is one of the most modern theme park rides in the world, and our very own Leigh Caldwell described it as “not childs play”.

In fact, when she got a very early sneak peek at the ride back in May, she noted that “If you’re a plus-sized person, it’s fairly likely that you’re not going to fit in the ride cars.”

She was right, because one Harry Potter fanatic said he was “quite disappointed” when ride operators told him his 265-pound frame was too much for the ride safety harness.

Other Universal rides have some modified seats for larger passengers, but in the world of Muggles and Butterbeer, fatties are apparently not invited to share in the fun.

Ride operators are now performing “random” screenings, asking passengers to sit in a test seat in order to kick them out of the line before they actually arrive at the ride itself. As embarrassing as this is, it sure beats trying to strap yourself into a seat and realizing the safety bar won’t go down all the way.

Of course, the main reason for actions like this is to keep riders safe – seats and restraints are designed with a certain size in mind, and the last thing a park wants is to be in the news when an overweight passenger becomes stuck, or worse. And no, unlike on the airlines, buying two tickets won’t solve this problem.

8 new thrill rides opening in 2010

Whether you’re an avid thrill seeker or just looking to have a little fun, thrill rides and roller coasters offer riders endless good times and plenty of excitement. With the economy on the forefront of most American’s minds, many amusement parks have scaled back or delayed production of new rides. Luckily, not every park is afraid of the economic downturn, and these eight new rides opening this year offer entertainment that refuses to disappoint. Time to strap in and enjoy the ride!

Wildebeest

The longest water coaster in the world, the Wildebeest, is opening May 14, 2010 at Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN. Riders splash through the 1,710 feet of yellow tubing at 36 feet per second in just 2 minutes, and 30 seconds on a four-person raft. The Wildebeest has a total of 7 drops, the tallest of which is 38 feet, and features 2 underground tunnels. With no access stairs, this family friendly ride is easily accessible to riders.

Shoot the Rapids
Cedar Point Theme Park in Sandusky, OH will show off this new log flume ride in 2010. Shoot the Rapids features an 85-foot first drop, and a 49-foot second drop. Unexpected special effects advance the playful backwoods, moonshine theme. With enough thrills to get the heart racing, but without the speeds that eliminate certain riders, Shoot the Rapids is a family thrill ride.

The Intimidator
Opening in the Spring of 2010 at Carowinds Theme Park in Charlotte, NC, the Intimidator boasts speeds in excess of 75 mph. The red track and checkerboard patterned landing are in honor of legendary Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt, who was the inspiration for the coaster. The tallest coaster in the Southeast, the Intimidator is 232 feet tall with a staggering first drop of 211 feet at a 74 degree angle. Open-air seating, modeled after Earnhardt’s famous Monte Carlo, allows the rider a clear view of the ride’s eight dips along its 5,316 feet of track for the duration of the 3 minute 33 second thrill ride.

Sky Rocket

Accelerating to 50 mph in only 3 seconds, the Sky Rocket is expected to open in May of 2010. The Sky Rocket is the seventh coaster to be erected at Kennywood Theme Park in West Mifflin, PA. The 2100-foot blue track features a 90 degree drop, two separate G-force pullouts, a traditional corkscrew, an inverted top hat, and a barrel roll. The orange flame accented cars reach the end of the track in 65 seconds.

Scorpion’s Tail
Noah Ark Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, WI will set a new standard in water slides in 2010. The Scorpion’s Tail is 10 stories high, and 400 feet long. Shooting a single rider through a blue tube at more than 50 feet per second, this thrill ride “might sting a little.”

— The above was written by Chastity Goddard, Seed contributor.



Intimidator 305:
Kings Dominion
in Doswell Virginia will introduce the new giant coaster uses Nascar legend Dale Earnhardt’s nickname Intimidator. The name suits the coaster that towers at the intimidating height of 305 feet at its tallest. The first drop is 300 feet down at a terrifying 85 degree angle (nearly straight down!). The roaring ride hits amazing speeds of 90+ mph and will leaving the rider gripping their seat for the entire three minute journey in the fast lane.

The Dragon Challenge:
New roller coaster ride in Universal Studio’s Island’s of Adventure in Orlando Florida. The ride is a part of the parks newest themed section, Wizarding World of Harry Potter and actually two separate coasters. Riders must choose a ‘Dragon’, the red ‘Chinese Fireball’ or the blue ‘Hungarian Horntail’, each ‘Dragon’ offers a unique riding experience. The coasters seem to battle each other with tracks laid closely to one another simulating near hits to thrill passengers along for the battle ride. The mean ‘Hungarian Horntail’ hits top speed at 55 mph while the wicked ‘Chinese Fireball’ reaches 60 mph.

Revolution 360:
Seabreeze theme park
located in Rochester New York will open the revolutionary ride in the summer of 2010. Riders board a giant disk and sit on pedestal seats facing outward. The track is 123 feet long and u-shaped, the disk is shot up to a height of 5 stories and rotates the entire time it coasts up and down the half pipe track.

— The above was written by Rikki Dahl, Seed contributor.

Explore the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with your webcam and a copy of USA Today

In Spring, Universal Orlando Resort will open the doors to the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In the past couple of weeks, several images have been released, showing a little bit of what you can expect at this 20-acre themed environment.

Universal took things one step beyond boring images, and teamed up with USA Today to bring guests an augmented reality preview of the park.

Augmented reality is a technology that allows for images to appear on top of camera images. To enjoy the experience for yourself, you’ll need a webcam and a USA Today (from today, Thursday January 28th) or you can cheat, and download a PDF version of the map from the USA Today web site.

Once you have the map, point your browser to harrypotter3d.com and follow the instructions. There are several hidden tricks on the site, including the ability to make banners wave faster when you blow into your microphone.

One of the upcoming attractions – Ollivanders Experience (Ollivanders is the Wand shop in Diagon Alley)

From the attraction description:

“When guests visit Ollivanders, they will instantly feel like they’re in the shop from the films. It’s an intimate, single-windowed building, with the same signs, colors and other details read about in the books and seen in the films,” said Alan Gilmore, art director of the Harry Potter films and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. “But more importantly, visitors to Ollivanders will experience for themselves the magical moment that forever changed Harry’s life.”

Inside Ollivanders, visitors will be surrounded by thousands of multi-colored dusty wand boxes stacked on shelves from floor to ceiling. They will be welcomed by an inquisitive Wandkeeper, who will guide them through an enchanting experience to find their very own wand. First the Wandkeeper will ask the guest a few special questions and then select the first wand for them to try. Just like Harry, the guest will be prompted by the Wandkeeper to give the wand a wave, and a series of magical mishaps will occur until the right fit is found.

Of course, no Harry Potter park could ever be complete without its own Hogwarts Castle!

In addition to the magic featured in Ollivanders, guests will experience many other magical happenings at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including a Howler featured in the Owl Post shop front window whose ranting can be heard by guests as they pass by; The Monster Book of Monsters in Dervish and Banges that will snarl and growl at anyone who tries to get too close, and the Hog’s Head which can be seen puffing his jowls at visitors who visit the Hog’s Head pub.